Letter to the Editor: 'No' Vote Recommended for Smyrna Academy of Excellence
Smyrna Academy of Excellence Chairman Jimmy Arispe responds to the superintendent's recommendation to deny the school its charter. The Cobb County School Board will officially vote on the matter at its meeting Thursday, June 28.
As you know, over the last 13 months we have been involved in creating a k-12 charter school, the Smyrna Academy of Excellence, focused on the expectation that 100% of our students get a high school diploma and are college and career ready. With the current status of the graduation rates of the four South Cobb high schools, we have taken it upon ourselves to create and provide something different for our children, families and community.
Today, I was informed that the Cobb County superintendent was again recommending to the board of education that they not approve our charter school at the 6:30pm board meeting on this Thursday, June 28. I find this recommendation quite puzzling.
As you know, the genesis of our school began with a crazy vision to provide an exceptionally better education for our own children and the families of the South Cobb community. We are truly the only independent grassroots community driven school in the history of Cobb County. Unlike the previous charter schools in Cobb County, we have never engaged a CMO such as Imagine. Our efforts began and continue to be driven forward by a group of passionate, committed and motivated parents and concerned citizens from the South Cobb area.
The South Cobb community is demanding a school such as SAE and has spoken loudly. We have received over 1900 letters of support from individuals for our school. Over 1300 students have preregistered for our school. Over 80 individuals have donated over 15,000 hours to create and define every aspect of our school over the last year. We have over 500 facebook followers. We have had over 100 teachers apply to our school within the last 2 months. Ga State, Ga Tech, Southern Poly, Chattahoochee Tech, and Kennesaw State all support our school and are partners in our school's development. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Lockheed Martin, Renova Partners, and Rosser International are all businesses that support our school.
We have financial commitments from individuals for over $583,000 to help start our school. Annual donations for over $13,000. We have received grants from 2 different Ga government agencies in the amount of $58,000 for our school. We are the only school in Ga to have been awarded 2nd round Race to the Top funds and be invited to apply for 3rd round Race to the Top. Our 3rd round budget will be for approximately $12.9 million and include $10 million in facility funding.
Obviously there are quite a few individuals and entities that see the value in our South Cobb County charter school. We hope and pray that the Cobb County School board members will as well and vote yes to approve our charter petition. We invite and need all parents and residents to come to this board meeting at 6:30pm, Thursday, June 28 at the Cobb County School District offices at 514 Glover Street in Marietta. The board's vote this Thursday will send a loud message to our community about the value they place on quality educational options for the children and families of our South Cobb community.
Regardless of the Cobb County board vote on Thursday night, SAE will host a Community Event at Taylor Brawner Park on Atlanta Road in Smyrna at 6pm on Monday, July 2nd to discuss the next steps for our school.
Chairman of Smyrna Academy of Excellence
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